§ 41. Mr. GEORGE HARVEY
asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that shipbuilding costs in this country have risen within a, fraction of treble those of the year 1913, whilst the wages of operatives have increased only about 25 per cent. and materials about 80 per cent.; and will he inquire into this rise in costs?
I have been asked to reply. The President of the Board of Trade is aware that the costs of shipbuilding, as of manufacture generally, have increased since 1913, but he is not at present prepared to make any statement as to the precise amount of that increase, nor as to the extent to which the various factors of cost have contributed in it. He is advised, however, that the average increase in hourly and piecework rates of wages is considerably greater than that suggested in the question. The matter is one which is, of course, engaging our anxious thought. In view of the fact, however, that it is being investigated by the Balfour Committee on Trade and Industry, it is not proposed to make a separate inquiry. In this connection reference should he made to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the hon. Members for Mary-hill and Stockton-on-Tees on the 11th March.